A planning application has been lodged by South East Marts Ltd to develop a new market off the A22 (Diplocks Way roundabout), and the NFU has written to Wealden district planners in support.
The NFU says ‘relocation, with the associated improved facilities, is essential for the long-term viability of the market’. The purpose-built market would be a sustainable development that supports rural employment and complies with the latest animal welfare regulations.
East Sussex NFU chair Peter Appleton highlights how Hailsham ‘mart’ sits at the heart of the food supply chain.
Mr Appleton, a dairy farmer who farms at Caneheath and Arlington, says: “This historic market is part of a critical infrastructure that supports rural livelihoods and traditional patterns of land management in East Sussex and the surrounding counties. Huge investment and redevelopment of the market is necessary to comply with new legislation and that cannot be delivered on the current town centre site. Redevelopment will secure Hailsham market’s long-term future, safeguarding jobs and supporting the production of climate-friendly food for local people.”
Mr Appleton adds: “Minimising transport time for livestock is a priority for animal welfare as well as an important economic consideration for small farm businesses.
“The proposed new market would prioritise animal welfare, while meeting high standards of hygiene, biosecurity and incorporating environmental efficiency measures such as solar panels and improved waste management.”
Markets perform a valuable socio economic function, allowing farmers to come together to trade, with live auctions providing transparency in pricing. The NFU has told planners that markets contribute at least £3.41 billion and support more than 3,000 jobs nationally. The new mart and its amenities, such as the market café, would also provide an important social hub for farmers.
Hailsham is the only remaining livestock market across the whole of East Sussex and West Sussex, with Ashford in Kent the next nearest, approximately 50 miles away, and a journey time of around two hours. Much trade at Hailsham is in the sale of ‘stores’, animals for further fattening, besides those sold finished (for slaughter), and those sold for breeding or as ‘replacements’, animals bought by farmers to reinvigorate their herds and flocks.
The NFU has advised planners that the application aligns with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) paragraph 81, which states that ‘planning policies and decisions should help create the conditions in which businesses can invest, expand and adapt’ and it also supports sustainable growth (para 84). The NPPF recognises that in rural areas, development sites may have to be found adjacent to or beyond existing settlements (paragraph 85).
Over the past 50 years, the number of livestock markets has been in decline from a peak of about 1,000 to less than 150, with just 712 remaining in England.
Contact NFU South East Communications Adviser Isobel Bretherton e: isobel.breth[email protected] if you wish to interview an NFU representative.